The Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) is a grant initiative that awards funding to organizations to support the development of behavioral health practitioners. The MFP aims to increase the presence, knowledge, and skill base of practitioners available to serve racial and ethnic minority populations. By increasing the number of culturally competent professionals in the workforce, the program seeks to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral healthcare outcomes for underserved, minority communities.
The program also seeks to encourage more racial and ethnic minorities to join the behavioral health workforce. Racial and ethnic minorities make up more than 28% of the nation’s population. Yet less than 20% of America’s behavioral health workforce consists of racial or ethnic minorities. The relative scarcity of professionals who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds constitutes a workforce issue that contributes to the current disparities in quality of care and access to behavioral health treatment.
Through seven national behavioral health professional organizations, the program assists people who seek doctoral- and master's-level degrees and plan to work to improve behavioral health outcomes for minority communities. These MFP grantee organizations receive grant awards annually to implement the MFP.
The MFP, initiated in 1973, is administered by the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) and the SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). Initially, the program was designed to focus on increasing the number of doctoral-level professions only. However, in 2014, under President Obama’s Now Is The Time initiative, SAMHSA expanded the program to increase the number of culturally competent, master's-level behavioral health professionals available to serve youth ages 16 to 25 (MFP-Y) and to increase the number of available master's-level addiction counselors (MFP-AC).
To date, the MFP has three separate program areas:
- MFP-Traditional: doctoral level
- MFP-Y: master’s level
- MFP-AC: master’s level
The program closely aligns with the Affordable Care Act by addressing current and projected behavioral health workforce shortages and the need to train practitioners on recovery-based practices.